Rules of Texas Holdem
Texas Holdem is, when it comes to poker, the dominant force in terms of preferential card games. Not only is it the game that the majority of poker players love to play but it is undisputedly one of the the most fun games around. It comes as no surprise then that Hold'em are the most searched of all available online poker games. The popularity of the game has grown over the past years in what has become known as the 'Poker Boom'. This was fueled by the decision to televise the World Poker Tour events and in particular the introduction of the table cameras which transformed the game into a popular spectator sport. Holdem is the game of choice when it comes to main events, including at the WPT, WSOP and WSOPE.
In terms of game play, each player is dealt two cards, face down. These are called "hole cards" and are private to each player. There is then a round of betting and players will base their decision to play the hand or not on the strength of these cards and their position relative to the dealer button (see this guide on playing position). There is then an initial round of betting. At this stage, players have the choice to call, raise or fold. Once this betting round is complete, there are three cards dealt to the board. These three cards are the first of five and are better known as 'The Flop'. It's important to remember that a hand in Hold'em is made gradually so you know before the end of the hand if it's worth pursuing. Remember, the community cards are shared so a player can use any combination of their two private cards and the community cards to make their hand.
There is now a second round of betting and players will again need to decide if their hand is worth pursuing. Once this round of betting is done, there is a fourth community card, known as 'Fourth Street', dealt to the board and another round of betting. The fifth and final community card is then dealt and there is a final round of betting followed by showdown. At showdown, if there is more than one player left in the hand, players reveal their hands and the best hand wins the pot.
Remember, the object of the game is to create the best hand using any of the 2 cards in your hand with any of the board cards (the community cards). So players will have 7 cards to choose from, in total. It is also very possible that a player 'plays the board', which means the best five cards are all on the board.
To see how hands are ranked, check out this guide - ranking of poker hands.
Other Points of Note
- The game is played with a standard 52-card deck and as many as 10 poker players at each table. In poker, a "dealer button" is used to indicate the position of the player who would be dealing the cards if the players were actually dealing the cards themselves. The player holding the button acts last and thus has a positional advantage that remains throughout the game hand.
- After each hand, the button is moved one position clockwise, so that all players in the game have, after a full round, exactly the same number of opportunities to hold positional advantage.
- You can fold your cards at any time. Remember you are not obliged to bet unless you are on the big or small blinds (compulsory bets), so if you don't want to get involved in the hand, it costs you nothing and you should wait for a better hand. However sitting at a table and folding continuously will result in you forking out chips on the blinds and it is key, especially in tournament play now to get blinded out the game (loose all your chips to the blinds). It is also important to remember not to feel forced to call raises when you are on the big or small blind. You should ask yourself if you would have played the hand if you were not. Of course if it is only a really small raise then you should see a flop.
A typical game of Hold'em is played as indicated below:
All players are dealt 2 Hole cards (pre flop) + Round of Betting
The Flop (3rd community Card) + Round of Betting
The Turn (4th community card) + Round of Betting
The River (5th community card) + Final Round of Betting
SHOWDOWN (Players show their cards)
The Blinds in Hold'em
The two players on the button's immediate left must post "blind" bets. This is the automatic bets that must be put in the pot (the automatic bets) before they see their cards. Typically, the player in the very first position posts a blind bet one-half the size of the player in the second position, although in some games, the first bet ("small blind") may be as little as one-third or as much as two-thirds the size of the second bet ("big blind"). Depending on whether you are playing a cash game or tournament, the strategy for playing the blinds changes. In a cash game the blinds are constant whereas in a tournament, the blinds continually increase, the longer you stay in the tournament. It's important to understand how to play the blinds as it gets many players into trouble. Read our guide on the blinds for more on this.
You can become a profitable Texas Holdem player, but you should work to learn the tricks of the trade. You should be familiar with these poker rules, strategies, tips and tells. For that reason you should find a reliable Texas Holdem guide, which will provide you the newest and the most accurate information about the game. If you are well-informed you will be more confident at the poker table and you will can take advantage of your opponents.
If you are wanting to get started playing Hold'em, check out our games section where we rank and compare all the Texas Hold'em poker rooms and other games played online.